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Case Study

Integrity assurance for additively manufactured parts

Project Lead:
Dr Simon Lewis
+44 (0)117 325 0769

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Additive manufacture, often popularly called “3D printing”, uses techniques such as laser fusion of metal powders to create optimal design solutions that could not be made other ways.  Such components are lighter and stronger than conventional parts, but because of the way they are made the standard methods for assuring their quality cannot be used.  This is a particular problem for safety-critical components in industries like nuclear and aerospace.

Working with UKAEA, inspection bodies, and aerospace companies, we developed a risk-based analysis methodology that assessed the fatigue lives for an otherwise perfect component based on a number of worst-case potential flaws then statistically assessed the probability of inclusions, voids, or unfused particles with the critical region. The method was complex but could be automated easily for any given geometry, quickly leading to a risk assessment for that component that would inform the test regime during manufacture.
Our work

In a rapidly expanding field this methodology remains to be further developed to account for the growing range of material types and manufacturing techniques.  However, the initial test applications have been very successful.

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